We completed the first leg of our trip yesterday and now are at my parents for the next two days. It is lovely to have no packing or un-packing to do. We are getting some much needed rest before our off the grid adventures begin.
And just what is this off the grid business? It simply means no public utilities or services connect to your property, no electricity, no water, no natural gas, no sewage. How this translates to any given living situation differs drastically. In our case, it does not mean we will be reading by the light of a kerosene lantern, cooking on a wood-burning stove, fetching the milk from a root cellar filled with ice blocks packed in sawdust, and pumping water out of a well. We have solar panels with a back-up gasoline generator, a drilled well, and a propane tank which fuels a cook stove, a hot-water tank, and a rinnai space heater. We also have a wood-burning stove in the living room, which will be our primary heat-source. And for sewage there is the typical non-urban set up: a flush toilet, a septic tank, and a leach field. However, as mentioned, until we fix the leach field we'll be using the outhouse. But as long as the sun shines, or we have gas, we have hot and cold running water.
And, yes, we have a refrigerator and will be getting a washing machine, the two main amenities I get asked about. I have no interest in feeding two kids without proper refrigeration or in spending the majority of my time hand-washing clothes. On the other hand, we do want to minimize generator use, so we are already making plans to build a root cellar, have purchased a few kerosene lanterns, and are hoping to get the old spring well going, that way we could have the option of pumping water. I also am keen on getting a wood-burning cook stove someday, but have yet to convince Aaron that it makes sense. I argue that we have the propane stove for the summer or quick cook jobs, but in the winter we can add heat to the house and make breakfast or bread or whatever off the same logs of wood. If anyone has experience with cooking on a wood-burning stove, I'd love to know if you would vote for or against getting one and why.